We have heard it over and over again. “Lifestyle change” is the key to reducing weight and keeping it off. But is lifestyle change? Many of us think that it is a complete overhaul of our diet and exercise regime. The problem with this type of thinking is that it can be very daunting for the average person. I have seen it over and over again in my field, people come into my studio all gung-ho ready to change everything and while there are some that this works for, the majority of people I see end up failing at their “perceived” goals and moving on within a few months.
It is better to reel it in a bit and start by making small changes. The most successful weight loss I have seen is when I see people make incremental changes in their lives. They start with small things and work up to much larger issues as they goal. The key is SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Start with a realistic plan that works. Instead of looking at the big picture of the 80 pounds you have to lose. Try something like 10% of your weight by six months. For most people, this is pretty doable and you will see a lot of positive health results.
To be specific, ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish this goal. Know your constraints and requirements. If you are trying to lose weight around Christmas time and you know that you have 5 parties to go to and many events that are going to put some constraints on your weight loss goals, then maybe your goal should be simpler than trying to lose 10 pounds in a month and should be to “schedule my exercise, make sure I have healthy snacks available, do not put on the weight.”
By Measurable, I mean to know what your goal is, how much you plan to lose and making target dates for reasonable loss.
Attainability is important too. . Thinking that you can lose 5 pounds a week is not very realistic either and will lead to frustration and maybe even total abandonment of your goals. Look at the large goal first and then break them down into small mini-goals that are more attainable. Setting unrealistic goals is a sure fire way to set yourself up for failure.
Relevancy is also important as well. If you are in the middle of a divorce, moving house and have a new job, then maybe this is not the best time to start trying to lose a bunch of weight. Right now may not be the right time to move forward and you may not have the right skill-set that comes with lifestyle change.
The goals should be timely. Make sure that you have your dates in mind. They can always be re-evaluated if things change but they need to be set out.
Finally, and most importantly, start by taking baby steps. Instead of focusing on “taking things away,” focus on making additions to your life. Add 10 minutes of cardio a day. This even can be a simple as walking. “Add” extra vegetables to your plate. Adding extra vegetables can increase your sense of fullness and decrease the amount of calories you consume. Adding healthy behaviors instead of deleting unhealthy behaviors can make a huge difference in health and can seem less overwhelming.